Classic Picture Books to Share with Your Child: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' was written by Judi Barrett and illustrated by her husband, Ron Barrett. The picture book was first published in 1978. The whimsical story and intricate drawings make the book an excellent choice for sharing with your child.

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cloudy with a chance of meatballs by judi barrett

About the Story

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs begins on a Saturday morning as the story's narrator and her brother, Henry, await their grandfather's pancakes. An errant flipped pancake lands on Henry's face, which reminds the grandfather of his favorite tall-tale bedtime story. That night, he regales the children with the story of the town of Chewandswallow.

Though seemingly normal in most ways, Chewandswallow has one unusual feature. There are no food stores. Instead, the sky provides food for breakfast, lunch and dinner through the weather. There are orange juice sprinkles, hamburger storms, soup rains and much more. Everyone in Chewandswallow has plenty to eat, with leftovers from each meal providing snacks throughout the day.

One day, though, the weather begins the change. There's a day with nothing but overcooked broccoli and another with a blinding pea soup fog. Then the food grows much larger, including a pancake that covers the school. In order to survive, the people of Chewandswallow decide to abandon their town and head out to sea on boats made from oversized food. They build a new town in a land without food-based weather and, over time, they adjust to this new life.

Engaging with the Book

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is likely to fascinate your child due to the nature of the story. It can inspire you to ask your child about how he or she would like to live in a land where food fell from the sky. What kinds of food would your child like to see raining down? What would it be like to walk outside and find breakfast waiting on the trees?

In addition to the story itself, Ron Barrett's artwork is highly evocative and rewards close examination. Each picture expands upon the text and adds significant complexity to the story. You and your child can study the pictures for minute details, such as the many animals participating in the background.

Recommended Further Reading

If your child enjoys Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, there are many more picture books with quirky stories of a similar style. For example, Esphyr Slobodkina's Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business follows a salesman who walks around with a towering stack of caps on his head, only to have them stolen by monkeys. Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon is likewise fanciful, as a little boy invents the world around him with a singular crayon. Finally, Judi and Ron Barrett published a sequel to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in 2000, which is entitled Pickles to Pittsburgh.

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